I have always been one of those people who gets really gung-ho about their New Year’s resolution in January and by February can’t even remember what the resolution was all about. This year is going to be different. This year, like most people, my New Year’s resolution was centered around two things: 1) Spending more quality time with friends and loved ones, and 2) making better choices around food. To me, better food choices means paying attention to where my food comes from and it’s overall effect on the planet and my own health. In a nutshell, I’m saying good-bye to things that are overly processed or mass-produced. Or trying to anyway.
Life seems to speed up the older I get, and as people’s schedules get busier and busier, it can get harder and harder to find time to connect with people in person. Keeping tabs on how food we eat affects us and our environment is no easy task. Hopefully I haven’t set myself up to fail in 2017. My solution: Brunch with friends! Let’s face it, people love brunch. And Vancouver’s brunch scene is booming with places that serve healthy, organic, free-range or vegetarian foods. Here are three places that will be helping me achieve my goals in 2017.
Aphrodite’s Organic Cafe and Pie Co.
Aphrodite’s has been a staple in the Vancouver food scene since it’s opening in 2002 when the only thing on the menu was pie. Fourteen years later there is a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu of dishes made with organic and locally sourced ingredients. There are also plenty of gluten-free options. The main attraction is breakfast, so if you come on a weekend, come early or be prepared to wait in line. It will be well worth the wait, though – the staff is friendly, the decor is cheery and the food is delicious. I always walk away full, but without feeling like I’m in a food coma.
The portions are generous and include the usual brunch fare of eggs benny, omelettes, and french toast. You can also choose from a small selection of “hippie” options or substitute corn flour english muffins, flax bread, or brown rice flour tortillas if you require gluten-free options. I also love that the menu often includes the suppliers name. It shows pride in their product and also lets me know what brands I can look for when I’m food shopping. Don’t forget to try a slice of pie – that’s the dish that put Aphrodite’s on the map. One apple pie aficionado in my circle of friends claims that their apple pie is one of the best they’ve ever had.
Location: 3605 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Price Range: $14-20
Website: For lots of information about the cafe, it’s history, it’s mission, store hours and more.
If you want to know where the cool kids go, this is the place. Fable Diner is a follow-up project to the successful Fable Restaurant from Top Chef Canada finalist Trevor Bird. Trevor is a local champion of the farm to table concept and both restaurants use locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. The diner, which highlights casual and budget friendly dishes, can seat up to 86 guests. Still, you are more likely than not to find a line up on the weekends, so be sure to get there before 10am.
I feel young and hip when I eat at Fable Diner; they have really taken the vintage diner concept and modernized it. The menu is playful and many items are a twist on old classics: french toast with nutella mousse, peanut butter and bacon oatmeal and roast duck pancakes. I haven’t been able to convince myself to try something other than the fried chicken eggs benny, though. That famous Fable sauce with hollandaise and gravy is just too darn good, especially when it’s sitting on top of a scone with perfectly poached eggs and juicy organic fried chicken. They also serve more traditional breakfasts like eggs with toast and huevos rancheros. For something a little healthier, try the west coast toast – it’s the most fancy version of avocado toast you are likely to see for $8
Location: 151 East Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Price Range: $7-$15
Website: for a brief history, menu, location and hours of operation.
Ethical Kitchen satisfies both the science nerd and the foodie in me. The chef has decades of experience in farming, apothecary, nutrition and of course, cooking – all of which she incorporates into her menu. The menu items are as diverse as they are nourishing with an emphasis on specialty lattes and baked goods. Brunch items include a Paleo breakfast, a more traditional eggs and sausage dish, and sourdough pancakes that are sure to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. For those who would rather eat in the comfort of your own home, there is a selection of items you can take away. Some menu items change with the season so it’s definitely a place worth going back to often.
The dining experience at Ethical Kitchen is unique and not suited for those who relish in the frills of the typical restaurant chain that include impossibly well put together wait staff constantly asking if you need more water and trying to sell you appetizers and dessert. Here, you order at the front counter and seat yourself at one of the large farmhouse style tables, where you may find yourself making a new friend or two. If you find yourself there when it’s quiet, there is a cozy table for two by the window if you want a more intimate setting. In the warmer months you can eat out on the patio on a picnic table bordered by a wall of healthy flora, and most likely Momo, the friendly pooch.
Any place that invites you to join them in eating their way to a better world is a place I will return to over and over again.
Location: 1600 McKay Road, North Vancouver, BC
Price Range: $11-$14
Website: for information on the science-y side of the menu, the vision, hours of operation and information about other products and brands available for purchase AND other community events they are involved in.
You may also like this article about the Fraser Valley Food Truck Festival.